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Sleepless in Fulham: Rambling and gambling by David Young
Sunday, 20 July 2008
Hellmuth rants.
Topic: Poker

I realise that 'Hellmuth Rants' must be the 'Dog bites Man' headline of poker journalism, but bear with me on this. I've met Phil a couple of times and he was very polite on both occasions. He's not always like that however, mainly because he has unrealistic expectations of how consistently he can win in a game where luck is a big factor. He seems to have a deep-seated insecurity about how he's perceived, which leads to a constant need for acclaim. He likes to suggest that his antics are for show, but I'm not convinced that this is the case. More likely is that he's making virtue of necessity. I don't think he can stop.

In a recent posting he relates how brilliantly he played in the Main Event of this year's WSOP and deserved better than to finished 45th:

This earns the usual opprobrium that he always attracts, with some extra added for his continued involvement with the scandal-hit Ultimatebet. I doubt that any of this will hurt his feelings, nor lower his standing among those who do rate him. To pick on someone's known weaknesses achieves little if you're determined to damage their reputation. What hurts more is attacking their strengths. If you can prove that someone's chief strength isn't really that good, you've swept the rug from under their feet. That was why revelations of George W. Bush's drink-driving conviction and the fact that he didn't serve in Vietnam didn't stop him winning two elections. Everyone knew those were his weakneses. But when John Kerry 'reported for duty' at the Democrat's Convention in 2004, the Swift Boat Veterans were able to derail his bid for Commander-in-Chief by undermining his strength: the fact that he had three purple hearts from his service in Vietnam.

Hellmuth's chief claim to fame is that he is the 1989 World Champion. It surprises me then that none of his many detractors point out that along the way he benefited from precisely the same luck that he berates others for receiving. This YouTube clip from the action on the final table that year shows two hands:

The first shows him claiming to have folded a pair of tens (spades and clubs) pre-flop in a three-way pot against Johnny Chan (99) and Don Zewin (AJ). He's folded by far the best hand here, hardly something to be proud of (you can see the hand start at the end of part two of the series). Against those hands, with no further betting, he would have had an equity of roughly 44 per cent. Bizarrely the commentator says 'And Phil Hellmuth is delighted to be out of this one!'. Heaven knows why. A jack and an ace win the hand for Zewin and this brings us to the second hand, where Zewin skillfully makes a sort of anti-squeeze play to get all his chips in holding tens against Phil's ace-ten and a pair of twos held by a short-stack. Phil gets lucky and catches an ace on the flop to eliminate two opponents and get heads-up with Chan.

Zewin's equity was over 50 per cent against both opponents ... and he could have survived a loss to the twos. Hellmuth got lucky here. Don't let him forget it. Next time he charges off about how unlucky he is in the WSOP, remind him how Zewin outplayed him.

_ DY at 9:46 PM BST
Updated: Monday, 21 July 2008 1:22 PM BST
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Friday, 4 July 2008
Victoria Coren online.
Topic: Poker

Victoria Coren has kindly informed me that she now has a website featuring her work. It has archives of her Guardian and Observer columns (if you can find them) and its own blog. Check the latter now to learn of her progress in the $1,500 HORSE event.

She's asked me for my thoughts on the site. The content is impeccable of course, but I find the text rather small. The presentation may change in due course.

Wishing her all the best in the main event.


Tuesday, 10 June 2008
It won't be fun for the people who lose their jobs either.
Topic: Politics

Check out this story from yesterday's FT:

UK heading for steep rise in unemployment.

I can't get over the first sentence:

To add to the concerns of hard-pressed British property owners who already face falling house prices, rising petrol costs and higher utility bills, the UK's labour market is on the verge of a turning point that will bring a significant increase in unemployment.

Is there anywhere else in the world where a story about thousands of people losing their jobs is presented as bad news because of the way it affects the property market for others? I find it incredibly revealing about what is wrong with this country.

Wednesday, 4 June 2008
Strengths and weaknesses.
Topic: Television

I saw an hour or so of "The Apprentice" on YouTube this week. Until then I can honestly say I'd never felt the slightest curiosity about it, even though the show is very popular with some of my friends. That all changed when I read about a scandal in the press concerning one of the recent candidates on the show and realised that I knew his parents. His name is Michael Sophocles. I won't go into detail about the 'scandal', as having seen his antics on the show, I think it's perhaps the least embarrassing thing about him. It's bad enough that he claimed to be a 'good jewish boy', only to reveal that he no idea what 'kosher' was. It got worse when his aggressive celebration over some minor triumph drew a look of total horror from Alan Sugar's sidekick. To cap it off, he turned into Ricky Gervais when he decided to dance in front of the cameras.

Watching the few clips I found online, I was reminded of what I hate about the job-hunting process in this country. It's the interview process. It's not that I hate interviews personally. I'm actually rather good at them. It's just that I do not think that they are an adequate way of filling vacancies. I've never grasped why so few employers bother to devise a test of the skills required in the job and measure candidates' scores. I got the last formal job I did (night-shift editing) by doing a test that required me to proof-read some documents and précis some long articles. The 'interview' for the job was just a drink in the pub afterwards. It was my score on the test that mattered.

The show does test candidates' abilities across a range of skills. That should be enough. But instead there is also a 'made for TV' bit where he grills people in a group about how they did. Almost invariably they bitch about their colleagues and exaggerate how well they did. Few realise how bad they come across when doing this. Does any of this change Sugar's mind? Well frankly if it does, he's a fool.

Is he all that good a businessman anyway? I don't associate Amstrad with high quality. It's nowhere in the same class as other consumer electronics companies. Its e-mailer device was a joke. As this article points out, Sugar's wealth is mostly .... wait for it ... in property. 

Like most British people whose wealth has increased in the last couple of decades, it's the inflation of asset prices that's propelled him. It's a running joke between myself and 'the Beirut Correspondent' that he would go on Sugar's show and do nothing, before telling Alan Sugar 'I'm doing what you do. I filled in a mortgage application this morning to buy some properties and I'm going to hope they rise in value'.

Reflecting on the show this week, I've come to the realisation that Britain's corporate management is not a source of strength, but a weakness. It's the political stability that this country offers that's held us up so long. All manner of wealthy and successful people have come here because of it. Add to that our relatively flexible labour market and low taxes, and that's it.

Watching "The Apprentice" this week has only confirmed my worst fears about the quality of management in this country. Second rate people hire other second rate people. They get on well in interviews. It's no coincidence that our two greatest comic creations, David Brent and Basil Fawlty, are incompetent bosses. We laugh because it's true.

_ DY at 5:40 PM BST
Updated: Wednesday, 4 June 2008 5:48 PM BST
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Wednesday, 14 May 2008
Economics 100
Topic: Politics

Take a look at the speaking notes of Caroline Flint's 'Papers for Cabinet Meeting':


The media have focused on two parts: paragraphs two (...falls in price later this year - at best down 5-10% year-on-year) and six ("We can't know how bad it will get.") But other parts deserve as much attention for what they reveal about the average Labour politician's level of understanding of economics and the overall way in which they think.

Check out paragraph five:

"Underlying demand for housing remains high and the fundamentals of the economy are sound. But the market is being affected by the global credit crunch, which is making it difficult for many who would like to buy to do so."

It's breathtaking that drivel like this can be uttered in a cabinet meeting. In Economics, 'Demand' means demand backed up by the ability to pay. I'd like to have a Lambourghini but I can't pay for one. It doesn't matter how much I want it, I can't have it. So in economic terms I have no "demand". Now that banks and building societies are no longer giving 100 per cent mortgages and are instead expecting a deposit of anywhere between 10 and 25 per cent, the level of demand had dropped dramatically. Twenty-five per cent of a £300,000 house is £75,000. How many people have that much free cash in their current accounts? Demand is not high.

And then there's the mention of the 'global' credit crunch. This is yet another attempt to present the problem as something totally external to the UK. Of course Britain is not immune to things that happen overseas, but it's naive to suggest that there isn't something wrong here too. There are plenty of British 'sub-prime' borrowers who've borrowed far more than they can afford.

Then there's paragraph four: 'Repossessions are also rising, although we need to remember that the 2007 figure was still only around a third of that in 1991.'

Why on earth is this the relevant comparison? The credit crunch didn't really kick off until the second half of last year. The Northern Rock run was in the second half of September! The housing bubble of the 1980s peaked in August 1988, so a fairer comparison would be with a point earlier than 1991. If the ratio quoted is 1 to 3 now, I think that's an indication of much worse to come.

Paragraphs six to nine are clearly written by with immense faith in the ability of governments to influence events and spare the suffering of the overstretched. There is talk of 'measures' and help for first time buyers. Please God No! Have they learned nothing?

And then there's the part in bold near the bottom: "But it is vital that we show that at this time of uncertainty we show [sic] that we are on people's side."

It really does say 'we show' twice. It's a very revealing typo. It's all about show with New Labour. And in case there's any doubt, Labour has to show that it's on 'people's side'. Well that's a relief. I thought they were on the side of the insects. But sarcasm aside, WHICH people's side are they one? Well from the tone of the note, they are on the side of those who are overextended in the property market - those who've taken on huge debts. I don't recall the government ever caring about people who stayed out of the market because they didn't want to take on unsupportable mortgages. They don't appear to care about future homeowners, just existing ones. So if we follow the logic here, they would favour measures to benefit buy-to-let gamblers (sorry ... investors) at the expense of non-owners who'd like to see a fall in prices.

It's pathetic that cabinets ministers are being briefed by someone with less than a sixth-former's understanding of economics.

_ DY at 3:44 PM BST
Updated: Wednesday, 14 May 2008 3:51 PM BST
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Tuesday, 13 May 2008
The whistle is the warning.
Topic: Poker

There was much fun to be had at Neil Channing's post-win celebration in Holborn last month. Not just because of the free booze and food he laid on, but for the chance to see who turned up in a suit. It's a curious fact of life in the poker world that the people who are the most smartly dressed are the ones most likely to be seeking to borrow money.

With one exception, the evening didn't disprove my theory. Though when I saw Paul Parker dressed in a suit, I did express my concern. He knew the cause of my distress and assured me that the suit didn't mean he was on the nip. He gets a pass.

One person who clearly does understand this principle is the woman in this YouTube clip -

Clearly she's spent a long time in the Vic and knows what she's dealing with.

Talking of YouTube, I love the way the 'Related Videos' section works. I once looked at an interview with Meir Kahane and got offered 'Natalie Portman upskirt video'.

_ DY at 8:18 PM BST
Updated: Tuesday, 13 May 2008 8:25 PM BST
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Tuesday, 22 April 2008
London's Mayor
Topic: Politics

I'll be on TV tonight. Don't worry, it's not a repeat of 'Bar Beat'. I'm in the audience for ITV's "You Decide" show in which the three main candidates for the job of London Mayor took questions from the public. You'll be relieved to learn that I didn't ask a question.

The real shock of the night for me was the lack of security. My name was not on my ticket. Indeed I don't think the friend who acquired our tickets ('The Beirut Correspondent' from an earlier article about Lebanon) even had to forward my name at all. I was never frisked or searched and never went through any kind of metal detector. I've had more trouble getting into pubs. Anyone who got a gun into the studio could have shot the politician / policeman of their choice.

You'll see most of what was recorded on the show tonight. It's a one hour broadcast and they didn't record much more than that. I'll be interested to know how much of the audience noise comes across. Two seats to my left was a very pretty blond right-wing Tory who shouted 'Liar' at Ken more than once. With a bit of luck that'll get the camera pointed at me at some stage. If you do see it, ask yourself whether Alistair Stewart's introduction of Ken Livingstone was a bit biased (against him). Boris and Brian didn't seem to get such a hard landing. I'll be curious to know whether they include the question from the black man in the audience who said that Boris had claimed that blacks had low IQs. This turned out to be a reference to an article by 'Taki' in the Spectator during the period in which Boris was editor. I also want to know whether anyone clapped when Ken took credit for bringing London the Olympics. I'm sure some of us jeered.

In a lot of ways, the whole thing was a waste of time. The warm-up man asked us during the interval whether anyone had changed their mind. One hand went up in a crowd of about three hundred. Of course the studio audience isn't representative of Londoners as a whole. I didn't hear anyone speaking in Polish for instance. Viewers at home, who don't have a strong political allegiance may look for more subtle tonal clues. From where I sat, Ken was the one who looked like he wanted the job the most. The other two had a certain hollowness to their conviction. Ken had a mildly better grasp of detail, but that is inevitable given that he's the incumbent and has had to deal with the day-to-day issues for eight years. Boris has a flustered look about him which is endearing in many ways, but which makes it look like he doesn't have an answer to the question even when he has. At one point, Ken lost his cool a bit and ranted about SUVs and sports cars having no place driving through London. If you've ever dreamed of driving a Lotus or a Porche through Knightsbridge, there's no place for you in Ken's utopia. Alas I think he said that after filming stopped when they took extra questions from people who'd not been selected during the recorded portion.

The problem with the whole debate, if it can be called that, is that the job is so narrowly drawn that it's hard to have wide differences in ideology. The show was split into four parts - Transport, Crime, Housing and Fitness for Purpose. Inevitably all were in favour improving the first, decreasing the second, increasing the third (hurray!) and claimed to be most fit for the job. Thus the whole night was spent on technical matters about the costs of restoring Routemaster buses, the best methods to reduce anti-social behaviour on buses and how to punish councils that fail to build more houses. The audience didn't believe Boris's tranport costings or Ken's crime figures. These are of course matters of fact rather than opinion or judgement.

Sadly nobody suggested that there was no need for a London mayor.

ITV, 10.40pm

_ DY at 12:53 AM BST
Updated: Tuesday, 22 April 2008 1:13 AM BST
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Tuesday, 1 April 2008
She was only obeying orders.
Topic: Misc.

Oh the humanity! One day you're a perfectly respectable son of a notorious wartime fascist lunatic, with a fascination for Nazi sex-games and the next day the News of the World photographs you standing next to Bernie Ecclestone.

Ouch! That's got to hurt.

I don't know why the News of the World goes to such lengths to point out that Mosley is a masochist and a sadist. I would have thought that this was obvious given that he

a) watches Formula One.


b) expects others to watch it too.

At least the NOTW didn't consult the opinion of the Holocaust Educational Trust, as the Times did in a fit of righteous indignation designed to put a holier-than-thou face on what is basically a salacious story with no wider public significance -

And quite why the Trust felt the need to comment I don't know. Does nobody say 'No Comment' any more? What about 'This has absolutely nothing to do with us'?

_ DY at 5:13 PM BST
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Thursday, 27 March 2008
The delusion.
Topic: Poker

I'm doing some clearing up in my bedroom today. There is dust flying everywhere and I'm knee deep in books, brochures and periodicals. Going through a pile of old Spectators and Economists I stumbled across a copy of Time Out from November 2004, featuring an account of the poker-playing exploits of Jon Ronson as he took on the London leg of the EPT. Taking advice on offer from the various professionals in attendance, he quotes this vital warning from Neil Channing:

"Anyone who plays tournaments long enough will eventually win some championship or other .... Then three years will go by - you'll win nothing, lose all your money - and suddenly you'll realise all you've got left is the delusion that you are a champion."

Well done Neil!

_ DY at 11:19 PM BST
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Monday, 10 March 2008
Good news ... good news.
Topic: Misc.

India's getting richer. Indians are getting richer. That's great news, isn't it? Well I certainly think so. But apparently, there is a downside to this. According to this BBC report, there is a danger that India is developing a much more "hire and fire" commercial culture and in future it will be harder to have a job for life if you're not performing at your work.

Perhaps I'd need to work for the BBC to understand why this is a bad thing.

Tuesday, 4 March 2008
An attack on Global Warming from the left.
Topic: Politics

I've expressed scepticism about Global Warming before and been criticised for it. Part of the reason for this is that I'm known to be fairly right-wing and thus might be considered biased towards businesses whose profits come at the expense of the destruction of the environment. There is little I can do to reject this. I am not a corporation basher. I want businesses to create wealth and to prosper and I accept that some damage to the environment may be needed for this.

So perhaps readers might find it more interesting to read an attack on the theory of man-made Global Warming from someone who is a corporation basher, someone indeed whose views on most things are the polar opposite to mine (Iraq, Israel etc). Step forward Alexander Cockborn (brother of Patrick, who writes in the Independent). He is co-editor of a magazine called Counterpunch, which puts some of its content online. He's a long way to the left of me and indeed of most people. Here, for instance, he describes the rating agency Moodys as 'terrorists'!

It's therefore interesting that we both share intense scepticism about the theory of man-made Global Warming. In a recent book review on Spiked, he argues that the left's embrace of Global Warming alarmism is a consequence of:

"the decline of the left, and the decline of the left’s optimistic vision of altering the economic nature of things through a political programme. The left has bought into environmental catastrophism because it thinks that if it can persuade the world that there is indeed a catastrophe, then somehow the emergency response will lead to positive developments in terms of social and environmental justice."

Bingo! When the command economies of the former Soviet Union and its satellite states collapsed and their failure to match the living standards of the West was exposed, the left had to change the nature of its attack on capitalism. So from claiming that capitalism could not create and distribute wealth as effectively as socialism, many on the left switched to claiming that it did so too effectively - wrecking the planet in the endless quest to provide the proletiariat with bottled water, patio heaters and holidays on low-cost airlines.

Cockburn wants to save the left from this dangerous embrace and fears perhaps rightly, that Global Warming alarmism will be used by western corporations to cripple competition from developing countries - a terrible disaster for the poor. On this one issue at least, I am in complete agreement.

_ DY at 1:24 AM GMT
Updated: Tuesday, 4 March 2008 1:32 AM GMT
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Saturday, 23 February 2008
Poker thoughts for February (long)
Topic: Poker

It’s a while since I wrote about poker. Here are some scattered thoughts about the game.


Online –




I continue to be amazed at how blase people are about the whole Potripper fiasco at Absolute Poker. For those who don’t know, I should explain that late last year some players at one online poker site (Absolute Poker) noticed that some of their opponents had a win rate that was hard or impossible to explain away as being due merely to better play. Having gathered hand histories together, they realised that certain players had to be able to see the cards of their opponents. Nothing else could account for how these users (perhaps all the same person) never made a losing call on the river, among other things. They alerted Absolute and were initially given a denial. But they pressed on until Absolute investigated it again and concluded that something was seriously wrong. That’s a brief summary of the story. The upshot was that Absolute paid back $1.6m in compensation to those who were cheated.


What hardly anyone seems to comment on is that this shows how poor the cheating detection must have been at the site. How was it possible for certain players to have such a high win rate compared to their peers without suspicion being raised, especially users who played such a high proportion of the hands dealt to them? Doesn’t anyone wonder whether there are others out there who’ve done the same thing, but are much more subtle about it? What made people suspicious about the player named Potripper was that he made a big call with a Ten High to win a tournament when his opponent was bluffing with Nine High! What a giveaway! What if he’d been more sensible?


But nobody seems to care. Some people closed their accounts at Absolute, but others have joined up since the exposure of the security breach and the overall traffic is not harmed. I’ve heard some industry insiders tell me that Absolute’s turnover has increased. I have heard many people tell me their theory that only good players would know about the breach and close their accounts and that therefore the games must consequently be softer, so now might be a good time to sign up. I fear for the future of satire when I hear logic like that. Frankly, if I ran an online site with a well resourced cheating detection department I would wonder why I bothered given that customers don’t seem to consider security that important a feature.


World Series Sats


I see in one or more of the poker magazines floating around card rooms these days that online sites are being told by the UK Gaming Commission that they can’t offer satellites for main events taking place outside the European Economic Area. That might prevent the giant sucking sound that I’ve heard in previous years when thousands of Britons splash their money away trying to qualify for the World Series. Most come back with nothing.


Saving time


One of the key advantages of online play is that it deals many more hands per hour than the live game. I’m all for speed, so can I suggest that online sites with a large contingent of Scandinavian tournament players install an ‘Auto-Squeeze’ button? It would save a lot of time.


Live poker –


Solving the drugs crisis in Britain


The War on Drugs can be won! Here’s how. All the government has to do is legalise all drugs, on condition that they can only be distributed at British casinos. Ensure that card room managers are put in charge of customer service and sit back and watch the fun. Picture the scene if you will. A keen newbie junkie comes to the room and asks to be put on the list for Heroin


Manager: Sorry, but we don’t have any dealers yet. If you wait a couple of hours we might.


Junkie: But I want some now.


Manager: We’ve had three dealers phone in sick today and I can’t get any more from the pit bosses. Etc


The rigid way that British casinos are staffed is totally archaic and is one reason why I go to Gutshot from time to time rather than licensed casinos. You never have to wait for hours to get a dealer at Gutshot, because the staffing system is so much more flexible. Casinos can’t forecast with absolute certainty what demand for their services will be. It’s crazy that they are held to staffing rotas that don’t reflect reality. The upshot is that you feel that the business is orientated towards minimising costs rather than maximising profits.


While I’m on this subject of casino mismanagement, can I ask whether I’m the only person who keeps thinking of Gilbert and Sullivan’s HMS Pinafore and the character of Sir Joseph Porter, who becomes Head of the Navy without ever having been on a ship?


He explains his career in this hilarious song -


ending with this vital advice:


Now landsmen all, whoever you may be,

If you want to rise to the top of the tree,

If your soul isn't fettered to an office stool,

Be careful to be guided by this golden rule.

Stick close to your desks and never go to sea,

And you all may be rulers of the Queen's Navee!


It seems like that’s the way to go if you want to rise to a position where you make decisions about card rooms. On no account should you ever actually have played or worked in one. So many things are wrong that would never happen if seasoned players had any say in the matter at all. The lighting of most rooms is wrong. The kidney-shaped tables have a pointless indent for the dealer that means players One and Nine can’t see each other. Sometimes player One can’t see seat Eight either (ditto Nine/Two). I’ve long thought that this makes a mockery of the idea that poker is a game of observation of physical tells.


The City Boys Myth


For a long time I used to believe that there was an huge missed opportunity for poker clubs to get ‘City Boys’ playing poker. I’m not the only person who’s fallen into this trap. It seems to make sense that people who earn money trading shares, currencies and derivatives for a living would enjoy using their wits to play card games for money.


Yet it never seems to work like that. In my experience, City Boys tend to come to card rooms only when they are with a few friends from the same career and whilst totally pissed. They only want to play for a couple of hours and are incredibly slow. They are also the worst slow-rollers you’ll find anywhere and seem to think that giving people the rub-down when they beat them is part of the game. I actually walked out of one very slow game recently because of one such player who thought for about a minute on the turn whilst holding the nuts against a player who’d bet all-in. The long dwell up served no purpose except for the pleasure of springing an unpleasant surprise. There’s no need for that.


Aggressive Calls


Do you remember the great furore when Vanessa Rousso talked about making some "aggressive calls" in an interview she gave last year? It’s on YouTube somewhere if you look for it. It caused great hilarity on 2+2. But why did Dan Harrington not get the same abuse for implying the same thing in his second ‘On Hold’em’ Book? I can’t find the exact references now, but on more than one occasion he describes making certain calls as "aggressive".


No Limit has finally beaten Pot limit at the entry levels of the game at the Vic


It used to be that all the cash games at the Vic were pot limit. Now I would say that the No Limit games have taken over at all but the highest levels. All the games below £100 buy-in are now No Limit games and the £100 No Limit is now spread more often than the Pot Limit game of the same price. In fact the latter is often not spread at all. The increasing frequency of £250 buy-in games has sucked a lot of money upwards. The £100 games are now a lot shallower than they used to be and I may have to adjust my play accordingly.


Conspicuous Consumption in Las Vegas


From time to time I’m reminded that some poker players don’t like Las Vegas. To be honest I was pretty bored during my trip there last year. I found a lot of the games tighter than the ones I was used to at home and I was bored by the sterility of the conversation at the tables. I began to miss listening to David Binstock (yes really) babbling on about the issues of the day. It annoyed me that so many people there had no idea what was going on in the outside world.


But that isn’t the reason that Miriam from Gutshot dislikes Vegas. Apparently she’s put off by the sight of ‘Conspicuous Consumption’. I suggested to her that she should play Downtown, where the Consumption was a great deal less conspicuous … unless you’re looking for the Tuberculosis variety.


Don’t flatten the prize structure


I came second in a competition a few weeks ago. It didn’t have many players and so there were fewer prizes than players on the final table. When we got down to six players, with five prizes, the guy with the smallest stack started asking that there be an extra prize for 6th. I vetoed this and got the usual insults in return. The player in question is fairly tight and had done little in the final apart from waiting for others to knock themselves out. I saw no reason to reward this. Pleasingly, despite doubling up in the next hand, he still went out 6th and got nothing.


The next day I played a competition at other casino and he came up to talk to the woman sitting opposite me on my starting table. She asked how he’d fared and he explained that he’d won nothing because of me (pointing at me). When he left I said that I generally don’t do deals on tournament finals until the very late stages and even then don’t usually bother.


She said she would have agreed to his deal because she thought it was polite to ‘give something to the bubble’ – an unfortunate choice of words given the ethnicity of the man in question – but I strongly disagree. He was low stacked at that particular stage of the tournament for a good reason. It’s the way he plays. And there is no reason for that style to be rewarded. It’s not "polite". If anything it’s an insult to the people who went out just before him trying to build a decent stack.


Shuffling Machines


The Vic has bought and installed shuffling machines on two of its tables. That’s the good news. The bad news is that they are only being used on the raked £50 No Limit games. Quite why I felt shocked by learning this I don’t know. The only reason to use them on hourly-charged games would be enhanced customer satisfaction and we all know how important that is in the UK gaming industry.


League Deductions


On a couple of occasions last year I went to Brighton and Luton and found that there were league deductions being taken from tournament prize pools. The money raised was set aside for a free tournament held on a given day in the future for those who accumulated points from play in other tournaments. 


I am dead set against this idea. It penalises people who can’t play regularly at the same place, as well as anyone who has other plans for the day of the Freeroll. The manager at Brighton said that they wanted to reward the regulars. That’s fine by me if it comes from their profits but I don’t see why out of town visitors should have to pay for it. I am pleased to see that so far this madness hasn’t been repeated when I’ve been to Luton this year.

_ DY at 5:23 PM GMT
Updated: Tuesday, 4 March 2008 1:30 AM GMT
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Wednesday, 23 January 2008
Roger rants, you decide.
Topic: Politics

Over at Roger's Rants, Ipswich-based Roger Kirkham is blogging about the trial of Steve Wright, accused of the murder of five women (the reports started on January 14th). Roger himself met one of the victims, as she solicited for business near where he lives - which is also not far from the home of the accused. He was also interviewed by police four times.

I can't tell from the reporting we've had on this case whether the police really have much on this man that a good defence brief can't swat away fairly easily. Wright admits having sex with four of the five victims and that could account for some, if not all, of any DNA evidence submitted.

I'm a bit worried about something that he says in an aside:

There is one other piece of circumstantial evidence that the jury will know. If the killer isn’t Steve Wright, then how come the killings stopped the moment he was arrested?

I've often wondered whether prosecutions ever advance this argument and would be interested to hear from Roger whether it's used. It's going to be an interesting case and I shall be following his reports with interest.

Separately, I'm a little bit disappointed with Roger for what I consider to be a fairly disingenous comment he's made on Melanie Phillips' blog (now hosted on the Spectator website). On the 21st January, he wrote:

"What an embarrassment Mel's blog is becoming. She accuses one of the world's great civilisations of being uncivilised because it refuses to condone theft."

It's the use of tense in the first sentence that bothers me. 'Is becoming' implies that there was a time, not too long ago, when Roger thought Mel's blog wasn't embarrassing. Yet in the years that I've been reading Rogers-Rants, I can't recall a single time he has said anything nice about her. For as long as I can remember he's portrayed her in a negative light: as "Mad Mel" and "Smelanie". Why suggest that there's something recent about his disapproval?

_ DY at 4:21 PM GMT
Updated: Wednesday, 23 January 2008 5:10 PM GMT
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Saturday, 12 January 2008
Take it from one who knows.
Topic: Misc.

Welcome back in 2008. Happy New Year.

There are lots of serious topics to write about already this year - the future of Pakistan and the US primaries for instance. Huge amounts have been written about both, much of it already proved wrong. Pakistan has been calmer than Kenya, despite hundred of column inches in the press forecasting total meltdown (though it still can't be ruled out). The polls and the pundits have been taken by surprise in New Hampshire.

Perhaps the real truth is that nobody knows anything.

Except for one lady - Alexyss Tylor. Last year ended with me criticising some of the "women's" writers in the Times. Their advice appeared contradictory and inane. What a relief then, to discover Ms Tylor, who broadcasts on Public Access Television in Atlanta. Accompanied by her mother, she offers informed and reasoned commentary on relationships and sexual matters. Her mother, a retired minister of 34 years experience, acts as consiglieri, refraining from comment most of the time, but occasionally interupting proceedings to cross-examine her daughter's thinking with the forensic skills of the late Robin Day.

Tylor doesn't shy away from using graphic language to educate her viewers, so it's perhaps advisable not to watch the following nuggets of wisdom if you are at work. Instead, wait until you get home and get a pen and paper ready to make notes as you learn things you simply never knew.

Such as:

All Black Vaginas are made of Gold.

A lot of penises are looking at women like they are the credit union.

Dick will make you slap somebody.

A man's life force is in his nuts.

Men ration out dick like Government Cheese.

"Don't let every man hit the bottom"

A warning about acrobats.

Sunday, 23 December 2007
Women and the Times.
Topic: Misc.

A cousin of mine (female) sent me a link to an article in the Times about a month ago. It was about the need for commitment in relationships. She strongly agreed with the sentiment expressed, as did most of the respondents, and asked my opinion. I can't recall what I said at the time, except that I mentioned financial factors behind men's unwillingness to commit to marriage. Looking at the comments again, I see that Liz from Plymouth says it best:

Many men don't want to marry for fear of being stripped of their economic status should it go wrong. Who can blame them?

When I put this to my cousin she wasn't impressed that I'd brought money into the calculation, but I pointed out that a link on the same page she'd sent me argued that mothers mostly need male partners for financial support.

Although I've read the Times on and off for years, I had never really noticed that it has a strand of comment pieces concerning women and their relations with men (written by women of course). Now that I've found it I'm hooked. Today I read someone called India Knight writing about girls who have sex with footballers without asking for payment in return! Apparently a 19-year girl who had sex with some famous footballers is a victim. Can that be right? If the 19-year old David Young had slept with his favorite Hollywood actresses of the late 1980s, I don't think anyone would have called him a victim. Ho hum.

So if sex with attractive famous people isn't what women really want or should want, what is? Well according to another Times Women's writer, that answer is 'attention'. I have to say that I found this last article to be one of the most insulting pieces about women I've ever read. I don't think the woman who wrote it meant it that way, it's just that if you read it and mentally substitute 'six-year olds' for 'women', it makes just as much sense. Try it yourself - here are examples:

You can also guarantee that any woman [6 year old] – with the possible exception of the hedge-fund huntress – will resent being given what she wants if she has had to ask for it or prompt the giver in any way. This is because what a woman [6 year old] really wants, above all things, is for someone (a man) [(a parent)] to be so focused on her desires, so attentive to her every whim, that he will know what she needs....

... We want attention and we want attentive presents. Indulgent presents. Spoiling, decadent, surplus-to-requirement presents that flatter the most superficial aspects of our nature. Maybe even presents designed to get us more attention, like a little gold jacket, some big gold shoes or one of those cashmere scarves that looks as if it was knitted for a giant in a fairy tale.

Deeply depressing reading. It makes you understand why men who can't play football turn to guys like this for his gems of dating advice, such as why you should never take a woman to dinner until after you've slept with her.

_ DY at 3:53 PM GMT
Updated: Sunday, 23 December 2007 3:55 PM GMT
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